Creating Textures – Cobbled Floor

How to create a cobbled floor

In a series of posts on this blog we will be providing a behind-the-scenes look at how we develop the objects and spaces within the experiences we create. This first series will be focusing on how we use textures to create immersive spaces. Using genuine materials and textures in an experience appeals to each of the senses, allowing players to feel truly transported to another place and time. 

In this post we’ll be telling you about how we created a 17th century London cobbled street for the game ‘Pudding Lane’ at TimeTrap Escape Rooms.

The first step in creating the street was a huge delivery of 660 brick slips weighing 350kg. These are like standard bricks but roughly one third the depth, and we chipped each slip into three to create square cobbles. These were then carefully selected by size and colour to create varied rows that filled the width of the room and looked organically laid. The slips were pressed into a grey tile adhesive spread thickly on top of a vinyl floor covering so that the adhesive squeezed up between the cobbles, looking like cement.

laying the cobbles

The area we were transforming was shaped like a ‘T’, so there came a part where we wanted to change the direction of the rows and this would leave a thin gap. We created a join using a mixture of PVA glue, sand and brick dust left over from when we broke the bricks into cobbles. This allowed us to ensure every inch of the area was covered while maintaining authenticity. It took a number of hours to get all 2,000 cobbles down but it was worth it to achieve the final realistic result.

cobble mixture

cobble threshold

As we finished and tested our floor, it did become apparent that there was a small issue with the tile adhesive. The adhesive dries hard and with the flexibility of the floorboards underneath and the traffic on top, it began to crack, leading to loose cobbles coming up. Our street started to look like this and we needed a plan B.

redoing the cobbles

It is so important to us not to sacrifice the overall look and feel of a space so we will always choose the more effective option over the easiest. Our initial solution for the cobbles hadn’t quite worked, but as puzzle makers we were up to the challenge of problem solving. The answer lay in the PVA mixture we used to fill the gap where the cobbles changed direction. PVA dries like rubber so it had a lot more flexibility and was also able to fix the cobbles very firmly, so we relaid the loose cobbles with this mixture. The floor is now able to flex slightly as people walk over it, whilst still holding the cobbles firmly in place to maintain the illusion of a real, solid cobbled street. And that was that, finally the street was finished!